Aa Gym asks for his ads on fuel price increases to be withdrawn

Kompas – October 8, 2005
Darut Tauhid pesantren caretaker Abdullah Gymnastiar or Aa Gym (Breaking News)
Darut Tauhid pesantren caretaker Abdullah Gymnastiar or Aa Gym (Breaking News)

Jakarta – The caretaker of the Darut Tauhid pesantren [traditional Islamic boarding school], Abdullah Gymnastiar or Aa Gym, has asked that the advertisement on fuel price increases in which he starred and which were sponsored by the department of communication and information be taken off the air.

Ag Gym’s request follows the [negative] public reaction to the government advertisement on fuel price increase. Even the Muslim Students Association for Reform (HMI MPO) and the regional board of the Jakarta Indonesian Islamic Students (PII) have criticised Aa Gym over the advertisement. They believe the advertisement has tarnished Islam because it used religious jargon to legitimises a government policy that oppresses the people.

When contacted on Friday night, October 7, Aa Gym’s public relations officer Ningrum explained that Aa Gym does not want to speak for any side on the issue of fuel price increases. We asked the department of communication and information to take the advertisement off the air right from the beginning. We have repeatedly submitted this request, but last Thursday we demanded it be done immediately said Ningrum. Aa Gym is presently performing a holy pilgrimage in Mecca.

According to Ningrum, Aa Gym wishes to remain neutral on the question of the fuel price increases. Aa Gym’s wish was only to provide a certain condition in confronting a test. But what actually happened was it created the wrong impression. What was initially a good plan went wrong he said.

HMI and PII also conveyed the request for the termination of the advertisement. If the request is not fulfilled immediately, HMI and PII will bring criminal or civil charges against Aa Gym said the chairperson of the Jakarta chapter of HMI MPO, Herry Setiawan and the general chairperson of the Jakarta regional board of PII, Nashrullah, who were accompanied by the executive director of the Indonesian Public Law Office Wakil Kamal.

According to HMI and PII, the fuel price increases have had the impact of increasing the number of poor. Aa Gym should not be involved in efforts to influence the people into accepting this policy through an advertisement and particularly through Islamic jargon. It is misleading said Setiawan.

According to the head of a sub-section of the external public relations department of the ministry of communication and information, Bambang April, although it has not been taken off the air, Aa Gym’s advertisement will only run a sort while longer because its broadcast period will end soon.

[Translated by James Balowski.]